The famous British magazine, Auto Express has published a test of 9 winter tyres in the size 205/55 R16 for city and passenger cars. This comparison test is a little special since coronovirus restrictions prevented the magazine from completing the test, but it provides a good idea of the best winter tyres currently available.

By Published On: 4 June 2021Categories: Tyre reviews986 words5.1 min read
Winter tyre test: Auto Express compares tyres on the VW Golf
© Auto Express

An incomplete test due to Covid-19

Two years after conducting a winter tyre test in the size 205/55 R16, the Auto Express magazine is back. Many new tyres have arrived on the market whereas others have been updated. The test also includes a tyre which is not yet available for the general public and whose launch has been postponed to 2021, due to Covid-19. The poor health of the world economy and the difficulties facing the automotive industry have forced Continental to review its plans for the Continental TS 870, which was nevertheless sent to Auto Express. The magazine conducted the tests before the global pandemic. Indeed, the pandemic prevented the magazine from completing its tests with, in particular, the dry handling test set aside. But no panic, Auto Express managed to complete the main tests to assess the performances of the winter tyres. Here are the 9 winter tyres tested by the magazine on a Volkswagen Golf:

Winter tyre test: Auto Express compares tyre grip when cornering on snow
© Auto Express

New and old generations

Do you want to save fuel? The Nokian WR Snowproof is the tyre for you. Unfortunately, this choice of performance is at the expense of wet handling and aquaplaning resistance where it is up to 20% behind the best. It is slightly more efficient on snow and in dry braking tests.

The well-established Dunlop Winter Sport 5 is still a good performer after 5 years on the market. Although it is very good on snow, particularly in braking tests where it finishes first, it is beginning to be outperformed in wet conditions by more recent tyres.

The Falken Eurowinter HS01 confirms the impressions of ADAC and TCS, who conducted a similar test with the same tyre size. It is the weakest tyre on snow and is not much better on wet roads, despite good performances in aquaplaning tests. It makes up some ground in dry braking tests.

Unlike ADAC and TCS, who decided to the test the UltraGrip 9+, Auto Express tested the Goodyear UltraGrip Performance +, launched last year. Best tyre on snow and for curved aquaplaning, it is less dominant in wet handling and dry braking tests. The magazine expected more from this tyre, and in particular, its ability to compete with the best on dry and wet roads.

Winter tyre test: Auto Express compares the braking performance of tyres
© Auto Express

In 2018, the Pirelli Cinturato Winter finished third in the Auto Express winter tyre test in the size 205/55 R16, and was the best on snow. This year it drops a place but is just as efficient. The new Goodyear tyre has just the edge on snow. Despite average results in the wet compared with the best, the magazine underlines its very good grip at the front and stability at the rear on a wet track. Its wet braking distance is much longer than the best – 2 metres – and the Pirelli tyre consumes a lot of fuel: up to 4% more than the most economical tyre.

A solid Top 3

Balanced and without any real weakness, the Michelin Alpin 6 delivers precise handling. Always well placed in tests, it could have finished higher in the ranking if Auto Express had taken longevity into account in its calculation. The French tyre manufacturer’s mission is to make its tyres last, and this, down to the legal wear limit. Another positive point, the Alpin 6 has found the compound to offer reasonable fuel consumption without sacrificing its performance in wet conditions.

Like two years ago, the Hankook Winter i*cept RS2 finished the comparison test in second place. Good on snow, it stands out in wet conditions and more particularly in the circle test (handling when cornering), where it is the best. It is just beaten by the winner of this test in aquaplaning and wet braking tests, but it has the lowest price. Its rolling resistance deserves to be lowered by Hankook who has given priority to its efficiency in wet conditions.

Winter tyre test: Auto Express compares tyre grip in wet conditions
© Auto Express

It is the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 which proves to be the most efficient tyre in the 2020 winter tyre test carried out by Auto Express. It does not betray its A rating on the European tyre label: first in braking tests, first for wet handling, first for aquaplaning resistance and it is even first in dry braking tests. It is less dominant on snow, but does the job if you ever need to drive in these conditions.

But this ranking only features 8 tyres although we said Auto Express compared 9 tyres. Although the Continental WinterContact TS 870 will only be launched in 2021, the model tested by the British magazine is very promising. Unfortunately it is not yet available on the market and as such, it is not included in the final ranking. It is quite simply the best tyre of this comparison test. It competes with the Bridgestone Blizzak LM005, which remains slightly ahead in wet conditions, but delivers better performances on snow while proving to be economical. This is a real achievement for the German tyre manufacturer who should confirm this trend next winter.

Auto Express – 2020 Top 5 winter tyres                        +                                      –
1 – Bridgestone Blizzak LM005Best tyre in wet and dry conditionsHandling on snow
2 – Hankook Winter i*cept RS2Price, wet conditionsFuel consumption
3 – Michelin Alpin 6Balance, wet conditions
4 – Pirelli Cinturato WinterSnowFuel consumption, handling when cornering in wet conditions
5 – Goodyear UltraGrip Performance +Best on snowDry conditions

The complete results of the test can be found on the website of the Auto Express magazine.

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